W.Va. PSC considers proposed $8M water rate hike - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

W.Va. PSC considers proposed $8M water rate hike

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- The state Public Service Commission is considering a proposed $8 million rate increase for West Virginia American Water.

The 7 percent increase is part of an agreement presented to the PSC on Tuesday by the company, the PSC's staff and its Consumer Advocate Division.

If approved, the average monthly residential water bill would increase from $39.11 to $41.88.

The agreement also includes a 14 percent sewer rate increase for Fayetteville residents. Their monthly sewer bill would rise from $35.78 to $40.92.

The company says it wouldn't seek additional rate hikes before Jan. 1, 2015.

West Virginia American Water had sought a water rate hike of more than 20 percent.

Company president Jeff McIntyre says in a news release that the settlement is fair and reasonable.

Following is the full news release from West Virginia American Water:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (July 9, 2013) -- The Public Service Commission (PSC) staff, Consumer Advocate Division (CAD) and West Virginia American Water announced a joint stipulation agreement today in the company's general rate proceedings. The settlement, which each of the parties believes to be a fair and reasonable resolution of the cases, will avoid the additional expense that would result from full litigation before the Commission.

"This agreement is based on extensive negotiations and substantial compromises by all parties as a way to expedite and simplify the resolution of this case," said Jeff McIntyre, President of West Virginia American Water. "We, along with the other parties involved, hope that the Commission will accept this stipulation as a fair and reasonable resolution with the best interest of our customers at its core."

The main driver in West Virginia American Water's request was the approximately $85 million of system improvements the company has made since 2009, which is the year on which customers' current rates are based. These capital investments, which include upgrades to the water distribution system, water treatment facilities, storage tanks, pumping stations and computer systems, are necessary to enhance customer service and maintain water quality, service reliability and fire protection for approximately one-third of the state's population served by West Virginia American Water.

If accepted as proposed, the average residential water bill based on 3,315 gallons would change from $39.11 to $41.88 and the average Fayetteville residential sewer bill would change from $35.78 to $40.92. The settlement recommends an $8.125 million annual water revenue increase for the company's water customers statewide, which is a seven percent increase, and a $337,412 annual sewer revenue increase for the company's wastewater system in Fayetteville, which would be a 14 percent increase if allocated as proposed.

As part of the agreement, the company will not to file another general rate case for water or wastewater prior to Jan. 1, 2015.

The Commission has until Oct. 11, 2013 to rule on the case.

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